Al Gore, right, shakes hands with Nobel Peace Prize Committee Chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes.
a global television network giving
The Assault on Reason
by Al Gore
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The World at a "Fateful Fork": Nobel Peace Prize and The Assault on Reason
Honoring Al Gore
Such an important event and award, we want to bring into focus again the honor bestowed upon Al Gore - then discuss his latest book, The Assault on Reason. Last month Al Gore was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, shared equally with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is led by Rajendra Pachauri. By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Gore and the IPCC, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wanted to further strengthen the focus on the importance of battling climate change. Sharing the honor - and the $1.6 million in award money, Gore said he intended to donate his portion of the prize money to an organization that strives to persuade people to cut emissions and reduce global warming.
In his acceptance speech before Norway's royalty and other invited guests, Gore said the world is at a "fateful fork" and must find ways to counteract the shifting global temperatures. "We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency, a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here," Gore said.
Gore struck a more optimistic tone in saying it isn't too late to reverse the crisis and avoid some - but not all - of the consequences, "if we act boldly, decisively and quickly." Gore applauded European and Japanese moves to fight climate change but singled out China and the United States - the worst offenders - for balking on their responsibilities to help curb carbon emissions.
The two countries "will need to make the boldest moves or stand accountable before history for their failure to act."
The former vice president called for nations to undertake several initiatives. Among them: ratify a treaty establishing a global cap on emissions by 2010, a moratorium on building coal-burning facilities that don't safely trap carbon, and a carbon dioxide tax.
A tax is the easiest and most effective way to deal with climate change, Gore said. "These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must," Gore said. "No one should believe a solution should be found without effort, without cost, without change."
Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. panel splitting the award with Gore, also told the audience that conquering the climate threat is within society's reach. "Climate change today poses novel risks often outside the range of experience, such as impacts related to drought, heat waves, accelerated glacier threat and hurricane intensity," Pachauri said. "The global community needs to coordinate a far more proactive effort toward implementing adaptation measures in the most vulnerable communities and systems in the world."
The World Meteorological Organization and the U.N. Environment Program formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988. Rather than conducting its own research, the panel reviews scientific literature from around the world.
In announcing the award in October, the Nobel committee credited Gore with being "one of the world's leading environmental politicians" and the U.N. climate panel with highlighting links between human activity and global warming.
Last year, the Nobel committee awarded the prize to Bangladeshi banker Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, which he founded to provide credit with no collateral to poor residents of Bangladesh. Previous American recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize include former Presidents Jimmy Carter (2002), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Theodore Roosevelt (1906). In 1973, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shared the award with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho, who declined his share of the award, citing the situation in his country. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. received the honor in 1964.
Winning the Nobel Peace Prize caps off a string of high laurels for Gore. "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary on global warming that features Gore, captured two Academy Awards in February.
He also picked up an Emmy for co-creating "Current TV," a show that describes itself as a global television network giving viewers the opportunity to create and influence its programming. Created with a partner, Joel Hyatt, Current TV is an interactive cable channel aimed at young people where viewers can submit content over the Internet to air on the channel. Anyone with access to a computer and broadband can create a website or blog and post content sending information into the public forum. Users (called VC2 Producers) contribute three-to-seven-minute "pods", which are usually documentary in nature. The content is filtered by registered users on Current's website through a voting process. VC2 makes up a portion of the content aired on the channel. Users can also create Viewer Created Ad Messages, or V-CAMs and Current TV promos which are small promotions for either Current TV or the general topic of VC2. The channel has exclusive rights over viewer-submitted segments, but not copyright ownership.
His latest book, The Assault on Reason, published late last Spring, is not about our physical environment as was An Inconvenient Truth. Its about our political environment, democracy and how we debate and decide on critical issues. Contrasting the democratic foundations and concepts with a critique of the Bush administration activities, Gore emphasizes that the marketplace of reasoned debate upon which our country was founded is being endangered by a variety of allied forces: the use of fear, the misuse of faith, the distractions of our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the national media and the executive branch. In typical Gore fashion, he introduces the crisis then offers up opportunity for solution.
Gore dedicated, The Assault on Reason, to his father, Senator Albert Gore Sr., describing the bravery his father displayed by being true to what he felt was right, even though some accused him of being unpatriotic because of his steadfast opposition to the Vietnam War and an atheist because he dared to oppose a constitutional amendment to foster government-sponsored prayer in the public schools. He claims that fear has increasingly become a powerful political tool, public consumption of entertainment has dramatically surpassed that of serious news, and blind faith has proven more potent than truth, here too suggesting we are at a pivotal moment in American democracy - just as we are at a 'fateful fork' in our physical environment.
He cites the persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. The lack of serious and reasonable debate and truth telling depletes our democracy and ability to ensure a well-informed citizenry. The distractions of serial obsessions that consume the airwaves -- from the bad behaviors and private lives of celebrities like Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith and O.J. Simpson.
Gore give us inspiration to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from the climate crisis to the war in Iraq to the deficits and health and social welfare. Today, reason is under assault by forces using sophisticated techniques such as propaganda, psychology, and electronic mass media. Yet, democracy's advocates are beginning to use their own sophisticated techniques: the Internet, online organizing, blogs, and wikis. He remains confident that democracy will prevail and that the American people are rising to the challenge of reinvigorating self-government. It is his hope that those who read 'The Assault on Reason will choose to become part of a new movement to rekindle the true spirit of America.